Saturday, March 16, 2013

It will change the way you think about donuts. And hamburgers. And pretzels.


So, this weekend marks the conflation of a series of somewhat disparate events that conspired together to culminate in some rather interesting culinary, err, mash-ups involving one or more of the Leitich Smiths (by which I mean, me.).

First, today marks three weeks since the Austin Marathon and, therefore, the official end of my "recovery" period (both in terms of workouts and dietarily).  Essentially, this meant that while I was not going to indulge my every dietary whim (Fannie May Mint Meltaways at every meal!  Jolly Rancher Watermelon candies on the hour!) , I was going to be less punctilious about what I ate.

Second, Cyn is at Vermont College teaching a workshop, which means there is a precedent for my undertaking some rather extreme dietary experiments. (For the record, at the end of the week long Pizza a Day diet plan, I lost 5 pounds).

So, anyway, the theme this time is hamburgers.  Of a rather exotic variety.  The first is the Great Dane Brat and Pretzel Burger at Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company, in Madison, Wisconsin. (Author E.M. Kokie introduced Cyn and me to the place after our round of school visits).


This burger has a beef patty, a bratwurst patty, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickle slices, and it's all served on a pretzel bun!  It is heart-stoppingly good, with a surprisingly subtle, yet rich, flavor -- and the salt chunks add a nice punch.  One of the best burgers I've ever had.  It's also enormous :-).  (I ended up eating the whole thing, even though I figured when I ordered it, I'd only have half).

While we were at the restaurant, I happened to remark that there was this place in Austin that served burgers on a -- get this -- donut bun, but that I had never been there.

Well, that place is Gourdough's Public House, a brick-and-mortar incarnation of Gourdough's Big. Fat. Donuts (one of the bright spots in Austin's food truck scene).  And, of course, tonight, I had to go there.

They have an entire menu based on donuts -- all the entrees come with a donut, and even the salads are accompanied by a garlic donut (Really).  And all the sandwiches come on a donut bun. 

Note, however, that while donuts, these are not sugary confections -- they are more on the savory side (I confess that I was skeptical at first, too, but it turns out these things are pretty darn awesome).  (The donuts themselves seem, in texture, somewhere between a traditional cake-style and glazed type).

Here are a couple pics of the Big burger, with pimento cheese blend, cilantro, red onion, and tomato:

The bun, not surprisingly, was rich, but it didn't overpower the burger.  The cheese was well-matched and I liked the cilantro as well.  And the chips were a nice complement -- I think fries would have been a bit much. (Verily).  All in all, another of the best burgers I've ever had, and I'm anxious to try other things on the menu, as well.

Oh, and I did sample one of the desserts: the leprechaun donut, in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  This confection consisted of a hot donut with a Guinness stout chocolate mint sauce.  (Read that again, and then look at the pictures):

It was amazing. Again, rich without being overly sweet -- the Guinness seemed to cut some fo the sweetness of the chocolate sauce, and the mint added a nice aroma.

Bon Appetit!


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